Since 2010 the start of July has a new meaning in my calendar – the Goodwood Festival Of Speed. If you’ve never heard of, nor been, I simply must urge you to make the time to get to this event. Set in the grounds of the fabulous Goodwood House not far from the sleepy village of Petworth in southern England, it is a hill climb event on a scale that must be seen to be believed.
Over the last few years the event has grown and expanded and it attracts not only the very latest race and supercars but also some of the rarest vehicles ever to be seen. Its paddock is vast and offers visitors a rare chance to walk right around cars that many may have only ever dreamed of seeing. Drivers past & present walk through the relaxed paddock, happily stopping to talk to fans whilst owners are more than willing to discuss the cars that they have brought. Its not very often that you can see a McLaren F1 GTR Long Tail sitting not far from a 1939 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Kamm Coupe.
Part of the theme at this year’s event was to celebrate 50 years of Jaguar’s E-Type and to commemorate this landmark, a towering sculpture of an E-Type was erected in front of Goodwood House. But it wasn’t just E-Types that were getting a run up the famous Hill, also present were the iconic XJR12 & XJR9LM Le Mans cars as well as Jaguar’s new XKR-S.
One of the nicest features of Goodwood is the openness of it all. All the cars are accessible and if you’re in the right place at the right time you can bump into some living legends (as I did) like Sir Sterling Moss, Rene Arnoux & Murray Walker. Walking across the Cartier Lawn, there were countless rarities as well as all three types of Ferrari GTO – 250, 288 & 599 (all of which were owned by the same person).
As 2011 was the 100th centenary year of the Indy 500 a vast and eclectic collection of Indy cars were on hand ranging from a 2008 Dallara-Honda being piloted by Dario Franchitti to Dusenberg Cummins Diesel Special from 1931 which still remains the only car ever to complete the famous race without stopping for fuel. The world of Formula One was also well represented with the majority of current teams including Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus & Renault giving fans an opportunity to see and hear their cars up close. Ex F1 racers such as Damon Hill, Martin Donnelly were re-united with their old cars for demonstration runs.
Venturing trackside the view from behind the hay bales is incredible. Over the course of the weekend literally hundreds of race cars and motorcycles take part in multiple runs up the hill climb which passes in front of Goodwood House. Some showboat by performing massive rolling burnouts, wheelies and in the case of one stunt driver, did it on just two whees! For a smaller group though, it is very much a competition to set the fastest time of the weekend. The top runners are often a varied field from a Lotus Cosworth 88B to Maserati MC12 GT racecar piloted by a mix of ex racers and hill climb specialists. This year the fastest time of 48.01 was set by Johnny Milner in a Toyota Celica Sprint .
Such is the growing importance of Goodwood, many manufacturers now deem it the right venue to publicly unveil their new cars – BMW showing off their new M5, Jaguar with their new XKR-S whilst in the Supercar paddock it provided many with a chance to see new cars from Pagani & Lamborghini. In fact as I walked around the rear of the new Pagani Huayra, I find Mr. Pagani quietly sitting down peeling an orange, happily taking the atmosphere in.
If you find yourself stuck for ideas for a weekend break next summer, I strongly advise that you make the trip to Goodwood, you won’t be disappointed.
For the full Festival Of Speed gallery click here